We raise our own replacement ewes from the best of our Rambouillet commercial ewes. We select about 1500 of these ewes, checking them for fine consistent wool, good body type, twinning, open faces, and other traits. The rest of the ewes, who are good but not as good, are bred to Hampshire (blackface) rams. We breed the replacement moms to the Rambouillet rams that we also raise.
When these lambs are born in May, they are more vulnerable to harsh weather conditions than the cross-bred lambs, who have hybrid vigor. The twin and triplet lambs are more at risk since their Mom has multiple lambs to care for. We have lambing sheds where we can give the ewes and their multiple lambs extra care and shelter. It is key to know which ewes are carrying the valuable and vulnerable twins and triplets.
Luckily for us, we can call on Optimal Veterinary Services to test our ewes mid-pregnancy. We set up our corrals, and Geri Parsons’ testing tent, on top of Cyclone Rim—a high range on the Red Desert. That’s where Avencio and his sheep are. The winter has been dry, so we have moved up chasing snowdrifts for water for the sheep. Geri, and her partner, Dr. Cleon Kimberling, “have lab, will travel”. Doc didn’t come this time (too far to ride his bike!), but we gathered employees and family members to work as the ground crew. We were lucky to have good weather with almost no wind—not always the case on Cyclone Rim!
Geri set up her tent next to the chute. As each ewe stopped, she checked them with an ultrasound machine, then called “single”, “twin”, “triplet”, and occasionally “open”! We then marked each ewe. The ewes pregnant with multiples will be sorted into a separate bunch when we shear in a few weeks. Then they will head to the lambing sheds for TLC.
We sold one truckload of heifers so it was time to sort and load them. After weeks of dry weather, fire in the forest and smoke in the valley, we’ve had rain. It has settled the dust and greened up our brittle grasses. The Big Red Fire did a lot of good, this week’s rain is doing a lot of good, and the first frost which came last night is just a few days ahead of the Equinox. Fall is here, and the cooler weather is welcome.
Are they or aren’t they. The heifers are headed in to be pregnancy tested. We are lucky to have to two veterinarians in our community–Drs. Ben and Hallie Noland. Four-year-old Rhen calls Ben “Doctorbennoland” and the good doctor came to check out the heifers. McCoy, six, was mad because Rhen got to help while McCoy had to go to first grade and miss out out on the excitement.